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Take the Chaos Out of Holiday Shopping and Increase Sales By 50%

‘Tis the season for bold and forward-thinking retailers to try new things! Excitement is building as many innovative retailers focus on areas to make the holiday shopping experience better for their customers.

Enhancing Retail Mobile Apps


Some retailers are using mobile apps to help customers spend less time gathering deals and waiting in line, and more on finding the gifts their friends and family want:

  • Target makes it easy for parents to play Santa by enhancing their kids’ wish list app. This app includes new holiday games and a kid-friendly search function to add products in a “letter to Santa.” Parents then log into adult mode and respond to the letter, buy the presents directly, and share the list with relatives.
  • Kohl’s mobile app lets shoppers gather all their deals in one place by scanning gift cards, Kohl’s Cash, and Yes2You loyalty rewards into a mobile wallet. Customers also enjoy accelerated checkout in stores using Apple Pay.
  • Walmart’s mobile app lets customers build holiday wish lists by scanning items while shopping in stores, which can then be accessed by friends and family members using the app’s search feature. The app also directs consumers who order presents online to pickup locations in the store.

Creating a Better Omnichannel Experience


Retailers are also connecting online and offline channels with technology in the store to make sure customers don’t leave empty-handed:

  • Gamestop helps customers who want to avoid lines at all costs by letting them order products with their mobile app and pick it up in the store. If a shopper starts their shopping journey in the store, sales associates equipped with mobile devices will help them browse the complete online inventory, ship products to their home, and check out quickly with Apple Pay and Android Pay.
  • This year Kohl’s is debuting a “Ready for Pickup” email to alert customers that their order is ready, complete with an in-store map directing them to a pickup kiosk. Customers use just one shopping cart whether they’re shopping from their smart phone, tablet, or desktop.
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods is providing customers with an “Endless Aisle” experience. If an item is sold out in the store, the customer can use a digital kiosk to order the item, or work with a sales associate to have the item shipped to their home, often free of charge.

These innovations are supported by Cisco research on digital shoppers, which confirms that shoppers are very willing to use mobile features related to product research, purchase, delivery, and product support. In fact, 63 percent of customers surveyed would use in-store guidance to navigate to desired products, 60 percent would scan barcodes when shopping, and 49 percent would use mobile payments. Retailers can expect improved satisfaction and conversion by investing in mobile experiences that provide convenience and value to the customer, and avoiding features that complicate the shopper journey.

Cisco has also found that retailers can turn shoppers into omnichannel customers by allowing them to use in-store technology to purchase out-of-stock items. In a previous holiday season, Cisco customer Tesco combined online and in-store shopping experiences to exceed online holiday sales targets and achieved more than 50 percent sales growth.

We’re looking forward to seeing what kind of results progressive retailers will deliver this holiday season. Share what innovative approaches you are seeing in the marketplace and where you are placing your bets this season!

For more innovative retail strategies, see our Top 10 list of how you can create the ultimate shopping experience.




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Why Your In-Store Web, Mobile, and Video Experiences Matter

The lines between offline and online experiences are blurring. Customers no longer go online, they are online 24/7, and that includes inside your stores. In fact according to recent Google research, 89% of smartphone users leverage their smartphones while shopping in stores. And close to 70% of those used it to look at the retailer’s site and 21% look at apps.

Furthermore, according to Laura Wade-Gery, executive director of Multi-channel eCommerce for Marks & Spencer, “Shoppers who shop on our website as well as in our stores spend four times as much; throw smartphones into the mix and they spend eight times as much.” Enabling web, mobile, and video experiences in the store represents a huge opportunity – whether it is interactive, connected digital signage; Wi-Fi; employee-focused endless aisle apps; and so on.

Yet the majority of our customers face the reality that digital innovation is overwhelming their enterprise network. Everything from web apps, HD video, software updates, mobile apps, and even digital signage are traversing the network eating up valuable bandwidth. In addition, most retailers subscribe to doing more with less – particularly when it comes to IT – so upgrading enterprise network bandwidth across every store every few years is often just not viable, both from a budget and agility perspective. That is not to mention that a lot of Cisco customers can’t upgrade their bandwidth due to store location even if they wanted to.


But bandwidth constrained enterprise networks are only one side of the story. Latency is the other, whether caused by distance or amplified by enterprise network architectures such as backhauling Internet traffic over the WAN through the datacenter and out to the Internet. Currently, the vast majority of retailers use this network topology for store Internet access.


And as we all know, high latency is particularly detrimental to web application performance.


Just look at the difference in latency and bandwidth between in-store and residential Wi-Fi. In fact, latency for in-store Wi-Fi is higher than latency for LTE.


The bottom line is that congested, high-latency, low bandwidth enterprise networks result in slow HTTP applications, video, and software updates.


And we all know that video or apps that are slow or not working properly are bad for business. There has been plenty of research highlighting the fact that as web apps get slower, conversion rates decrease, abandonment rates increase, and employee productivity plummets.


In other words, slow apps – whether inside or outside the store – equals unhappy customers and unproductive employees. The answer to this problem? Retailers need to focus on accelerating HTTP/S applications, video and software updates while maximizing enterprise network bandwidth to ensure fast, high-quality experiences to all of your end users.

To learn more, be sure to register to join us on June 16 for a free one-hour webcast.

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The Foundation for a Business Relevant Network

With the growing influx of new mobile devices, connected things, bandwidth intensive applications and more data, the network is more relevant to business success than ever before.  Back in June of 2012, Cisco saw that we needed to move away from multiple network systems loosely linked together to an agile and simple infrastructure, streamlined policy and centralized management would be needed to support new business demands. We called it Cisco Unified Access and we aligned the solution to three pillars: One Network, One Policy and One Management.

For the last few years, we have focused on delivering new products and functionality under this Unified Access model. Below is a timeline of products released as part of the Unified Access framework. Cisco lead the way in delivering gigabit 802.11ac Wi-Fi., converged wireless control in access switches and through the acquisition of Meraki – a complete cloud-managed network solution.


The timeline above doesn’t represent every feature and function we have delivered, but it shows Cisco’s commitment to this Unified Access model, both from a cloud-managed and on-premise solution perspective.

Today, Cisco is announcing a number of new products and new functionality to existing products that will help mobilize the workforce, secure the business and increase IT agility. The announcement includes the following: Read More »

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Cisco Meraki Systems Manager Extends Enterprise Mobility Management to the Cloud

The industry is going beyond BYOD—it’s not just about simply connecting the device anymore: the mobile landscape has grown to include apps, devices and content, all of which require security and management. This is no easy task. Enterprise mobility management (EMM) is no longer a nice-to-have for our customers—it is a necessity. You need a mobile strategy.

We at Cisco have been steadily building out our mobility portfolio across infrastructure, policy and management over the past few years to provide our customers with what they need to get ahead of the mobile trend.

It has always been Cisco’s strategy to use open API’s with ISE to integrate with host of 3rd party EMM vendors, including Citrix, MobileIron, Airwatch and many more. We are now extending that flexibility to create a cloud-managed EMM offering with our Cisco Meraki solution.  The latest addition to the Cisco mobility portfolio, the Cisco Meraki Systems Manager Enterprise is an evolution of Cisco Meraki’s existing MDM cloud offer, and a natural extension of the Cisco Meraki network management solution (e.g. extending management of wireless access points to the management of devices connecting to the enterprise domain).

Cisco is committed to customer choice, and will continue to offer different options to the market, including ecosystem EMM partner solutions. The addition of the Cisco Meraki Systems Manager broadens that portfolio to strengthen our offering and empower our customers attain the mobility solution best suited for their specific requirements.

For more information on the Cisco Meraki Systems Manager, read the full announcement blog here.

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Cloudburst: iOS 8 Generates 50% Increase in Network Traffic

Many network engineers recall the iOS7 update on September 18, 2013 as one of the most historic download days of their network’s history. All the more reason for us in the wireless world who anxiously anticipated the September 17 release of iOS8.

We asked a few of our customers to monitor the effect of the software release on their networks and the results for the first two days are in. Those in the education and healthcare space in particular are filled with early adopters of WiFi technology and devices, and eager to get their hands on the latest updates.

Joe Rogers, Associate Network Director at the University of South Florida shared this picture with us from 1pm September 17th, showing 1 Gbps more traffic than he would normally see at this time of day:


Another customer, Greg Sawyer, Manager of Infrastructure Services, shared this picture of the iOS8 effect on his network at the UNSW Australia.


He noted that his experience handling the release this year felt smoother than last year, despite the new peak internet download of 4.65 Gbps and 21Tb downloaded for the day! Not too surprising when considering that there were 27,000 concurrent connections on the wireless network and approximately 60% of those being Apple devices.

How should organizations be considering and handling these network spikes? I sat down with Cisco technical leaders Matt MacPherson and Chris Spain (@Spain_Chris) to get some insight on the effect of big updates like iOS8 on the wireless network. Here are some of the highlights of what we discussed:

The World We Live In

The truth is, more and more services are being moved to the cloud—a cloud that will push updates to millions & in the future billions of users and devices on our networks. Read More »

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